Many people assume that getting their dog to come back to them is easy, but in reality, even without distractions, it’s much harder than you might think.
Like most behaviours, recall is something you need to teach. A dog won’t return to you if doing something else is more appealing, if he is afraid of the consequences of doing so, or if he’s confused by the cue you’re giving.
Watching your dog running in circles can be hugely infuriating and leave you wanting to dish out a punishment when you finally catch hold of him. The key is to remain calm and, instead of scolding your dog, ask him to do something you know he can do and for which you can reward him.
Tips for teaching recall:
- An assistant may be needed initially, to hold your dog and release him. Stand in sight of your dog and call him enthusiastically, offering a treat or toy held out in your hand.
- When your dog reaches you, greet him with a smile and take hold of his collar. Once you have this you can offer up the treat as well as lots of praise. It is important to hold the collar first so that your dog learns the treat comes after you’ve regained control of him and doesn’t learn to snatch the treat and dodge around you.
- Repeat this a couple of times a day, every day, until you no longer need an assistant. Your dog should come to you when called from wherever he is, as long as you’re greeting him cheerfully and giving a treat or reward.
- Build up the level of distractions going on around you. Your dog needs to understand the cue before distractions are brought into the equation. If your dog is easily preoccupied, consider putting him on an extendable lead.
Don’t overdo it as your dog will get bored if he’s constantly being called. Call him when he’s already running back to you to give him the best chance of success.
Try to make recall an enjoyable activity for your dog, by being enthusiastic, encouraging and having lots of treats to-hand.
Play ‘catch me if you can’ by running away from your dog and dropping tasty treats as you go. This will encourage him to follow and he won’t want to let you out of his sight!
If you have any tips for successful recall training, don’t hesitate to share them by commenting below.
Written by: Hannah Dyball